A rescue attempt “some time ago” failed to free a British hostage threatened in the latest video by the ISIS terror group, the UK said Wednesday.
In the video released Tuesday, the hostage is shown after a beheading, apparently of American journalist Steven Sotloff.
Sotloff is apparently the second American journalist beheaded by the group after James Foley’s killing last month. The executioner in the latest killing said it was a result of President Barack Obama’s decision to conduct airstrikes against the militant group in Iraq.
U.S. officials said an analysis of the video confirmed its authenticity.
“We will continue to provide updates as they are available,” said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council.
UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond provided scant details of the failed rescue attempt or any plans in the works.
“You wouldn’t expect me to discuss various options that we will be considering,” he said. “But I can assure you that we will look at every possible option to protect this person.”
Obama said the United States “will not be intimidated” by the murderers of the two journalists.
“Those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget … that our reach is long and that justice will be served,” he said.
Obama addressed his much-criticized statement last week that he has no strategy on ISIS. He said he was referring to a military strategy in Syria that “might” require congressional approval.
“Our objective is clear. That is to degrade and destroy (ISIS) so it’s no longer a threat,” he said. “We can accomplish that. It’s going to take some time, it’s going to take some effort.”
ISIS, or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, refers to itself as the “Islamic State.”
Obama said the world needs a regional strategy to defeat the group.
“We’ve been putting together a strategy that was designed to do a number of things. … What we have to make sure is we have a regional strategy in place,” he said.
In the latest video, Sotloff kneels in the desert, dressed in an orange prison-style jumpsuit. A masked “executioner” lords over him, wielding a knife.
The journalist speaks; the executioner speaks.
And then the horrific happens: The victim is beheaded. At the end, the video threatens the life of the British hostage, just as the Foley video threatened Sotloff’s life.
“It is almost the exact same choreography,” said Peter Neumann, a professor at King’s College London, comparing the ISIS videos showing the deaths of journalists Sotloff and Foley. A video of Foley’s execution was released last month.
The executioner appears to be the same person, and the location of the two killings also appears to be similar. Neumann suspects they took place in or around the Syrian city of Raqqa, one of the safest areas for ISIS.
‘I’m back, Obama’
Sotloff’s apparent executioner speaks in what sounds like the same British accent as the man who purportedly killed Foley.
He’s dressed identically in both videos, head to toe in black, with a face mask and combat boots. He appears to be of similar build and height. He waves a knife in his left hand, as did the militant in the video of Foley’s death.
And then, there are his actual words.
“I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State,” the executioner says in the second video. “Just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”
The SITE Intelligence group says there’s no question the same masked fighter appears in both videos.
After Foley’s death, the British ambassador to the United States said that experts in his country were close to identifying the killer. He has not yet been named.